POLITICIANS have rallied to decry the lack of NHS dental care available to new patients.
A BBC survey found nine out of 10 dental practices in Fermanagh were not accepting new NHS patients – a figure that has been replicated across the North.
Anyone in the county wishing to register with a dentist must do so as a private patient and be charged for each appointment plus any dental treatment that must be applied.
On average, routine checkups, fillings and extractions range between £40 and £60, but root canal treatment can be between £130 and £150, while crowns and bridges come closer to £400.
NHS patients would still have to pay, but at a heavily subsidized level and with the vast majority of dentists preferring to treat private patients, local politicians have pushed for more to be done to reverse this trend.
Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone, Michelle Gildernew, said: “The findings of this inquiry are worrying. Nearly 90% of practices in the North do not accept adults and children for dental care.
“Making sure people can see a dentist when they need it through the NHS must be the priority, not based on their ability to pay for private treatment.
“Department of Health plans to develop a program to improve access to urgent and emergency dental care for unregistered patients must also progress, alongside a strategy for oral health.
“We need a working executive now to provide a clear plan to recruit more dentists and dental nurses. The DUP should stop delaying this work and form a government now.
UUP MP Tom Elliott said the survey results highlighted the effects of the Covid pandemic on dentistry that “will take years to unravel”.
He added: “The BBC’s findings demonstrate the impact the pandemic has had on our healthcare professions and show that reform is needed.
“A review of dental care needs to be engaged with a wide range of stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health, dental practices and patients. The disruption of the pandemic will take years to unravel.
“I recognize that our healthcare professionals have been under considerable pressure over the past two years.
“I want us to return to a time when dental practices are accepting NHS patients again, but that will take time and reform.”
To know more.. Subscribe to the current edition
Posted: 4:00 PM August 21, 2022